Ocean Technology and Engineering
The NOC has the vision to be one of the world’s top three oceanographic institutions inventing, designing, building, deploying and commercialising sensors and instruments for marine and environmental science with a beneficial societal impact.
Ocean technology and engineering is a diverse area of oceanographic science and engages staff from a range of disciplines including engineering, chemistry and marine science. The NOC is extremely collaborative and is always seeking new partnerships with academia and industry for commercialisation of existing products and for new R&D. Our six areas of technology development focus on differing aspects in the creation of new technologies and tools to aid in oceanographic science.
Multidisciplinary projects within ocean technology and engineering research at the NOC focus on engineering of meteorology systems, integrating all the sensor research strands for ocean technology and engineering through the delivery of numerous research projects. Activity includes systems design, prototype manufacture, proof of concept systems testing and method optimisation to meet a performance target. NOC scientists working on multidisciplinary projects have the expertise to undertake the final integration of early production systems, prior to demonstration deployments.
Mechanical engineering provides engineering design, small-quantity manufacture, assembly and support for operations to other groups at the NOC and externally. Engineers work with scientists to design and develop a wide range of equipment, from sub-assemblies for complex autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to simple clamps for attaching instruments to frames.
NOC staff with an interest in instrumentation and systems work on the following: sea level measurement in the deep ocean and at shore based sites, low-power electronic instrumentation for autonomous operation, lander design and deployment, and satellite telemetry.
The NOC offer the following facilities in relation to instrumentation and systems
- A range of lander platforms that can accept sensor packages, with deployment times up to ten years
- BGAN telemetry systems for deployment in remote areas
- Wave glider integration and deployment.
Scientists and engineers involved with electronics and software are experts in designing high accuracy, low power measurement and control systems for deployment in harsh environments. Designs are bespoke and are created to fit the application. NOC has a large client base including scientists and engineers internal and external to the Natural Environmental Research Council to provide custom solutions to diverse scientific requirements.
Work has been undertaken to create ground based remote sensing software. Development of a novel, robust algorithm has enabled extraction of meaningful ocean measurements from remotely sensed data such as marine radar or cameras.
Electronics and communications play vital roles in technology development. NOC of offers oceanographic instrumentation support and deployment for a wide range of instruments and landers. They also work on optical, acoustic and turbulence electronic sensor development and glider instrumentation integration.
The NOC offer the following facilities in relation to electronics and communications
- Lander systems designed to be fully recoverable from coastal waters
- Instrumentation and hardware for shelf-edge and sediment transport measurements.
Analytical Science is used to develop and optimise analytical assays for autonomous sensor applications.
The people who undertake this science.
Prof. Matt Mowlem
Ocean Technology and Engineering Group Head
Telephone: +44 (0)23 8059 6379
NOC projects associated with this science area.
Developing Atlantic observing infrastructure and technology
Developing deep gliders and chemical sensors for them – visit project website
Sensors and systems for ocean carbon capture and storage monitoring – visit project website
Chemical sensors for inorganic and organic fluxes in estuaries – visit project website
Developing a fully integrated sensor suite for multiple platforms – visit project website
Communications systems for long-term measurement of circulation driven fluxes – visit project website
Developing chemical sensors for glaciology – visit project website
Molecular technology for environmental DNA techniques – visit project website
Support for Porcupine Abyssal Plain Observatory – visit project website
Using sensors to measure nutrient fluxes from the Patagonian Ice Field – visit project website
Developing state of the art nucleic acid detection methods for autonomous, Lab on Chip systems for pathogen detection – visit project website
Scientists and engineers at NOC are currently developing a number of technologies through commissioned Research and Development (R&D), funded by RCUK, EC and industry. These technologies span microsensors to large landers that can operate on the seabed for up to ten years. Technology being developed by scientists at NOC generally fit into the following categories.
Sensors able to measure a range of biogeochemical parameters including nutrients carbonate chemistry, trace metals, cells and nucleic acids. The sensors are designed to integrate with a range of autonomous vehicles.
We have a range of optical, radar, acoustic and pressure sensor systems for marine applications.
Gas tight water samples, trace metal and less than 2700bar. Particle samplers – neutrally buoyant sediment traps (PELAGRA) and microbiology sampler and nucleic acid preserver (MAPS).
Ten-year duration deep-sea landers and communication systems landers for coastal and littoral zone.
Used in the open ocean to measure breaking waves with millimetre resolution.
Multi-wavelength optical backscatter.
Acoustic telemetry for shallow and deep ocean use, BGAN and Iridium telemetry for remote areas.
Find out more about the ongoing technology developments in our Technology Development section.
The National Oceanography Centre has a range of facilities available for the development and testing of marine equipment. These facilities are also available for external use on request.
For more information about the available to the marine science community at the NOC, visit our Labs, Workshops and Testing Facilities page.
In Southampton, we have: Optics Laboratory, Calibration Laboratory, Bonding Laboratory, Sensors Workshop, Chemistry Laboratory, Ellsworth Laboratory and Electronics Laboratory.
Molecular Laboratory (National Facility)
A well-equipped molecular biology and Class II microbiology national facility containing an Illumina MiSeq sequencer and a suite of analytical instrumentation, safety cabinets and isolators. Contact: Annika Simpson, Southampton.
Pressure Testing Facility
The NOC offers pressure testing with temperature control (−10°C to 35°C) up to 690bar. Contact: Kevin Saw, Southampton